Two Saturdays ago, I went to the market for the first time in more than a year. The sights and sounds were almost overwhelming. Eye-catching displays of vegetables and ground provision stretched in every direction. I saw everything from creamy-hued broad beans and turnips to flame coloured carrots and tomatoes. People milled around buying, selling and hawking goods.
Then there were the heaps of refuse. Cabbage and lettuce leaves rested in piles, stripped down to display fresher insides. Dried banana leaves, pressed into service as protective layers between delicate fruits, lay cast aside. The precious cargo had arrived safely at market and were now displayed on stalls, in baskets and boxes.
As I passed piles of trash, it occurred to me that inspiration really can be found anywhere. The rubbish reminded me of all the layers we strip away when we get to the editing stage of a book. All the extra words, phrases and
fleshy flabby parts of the story are stripped away. Pushy characters that jump the line, yelling ‘Me! Me!’ can lead to dead-end plot lines. They are rooted out at this point, leaving only integral story material.
On the hundredth read, when
every bit most of the excess material is history, that’s the time the story begins to look as ripe and ready as the mangoes below.
If you’re wondering why I’ve said ‘most’ above instead of ‘every bit’, it’s because I read my published work and still find places where more words could have been deleted or reworked. This week I’ll have another whirl at Hardware which is back in my hands for the second clean up. Let’s hope I catch all the fatty trimmings.
What do you have on your plate this week? Any thoughts on how to peel away the dross to get to the good stuff?